Row over buffer zone around housing development near ancient woodland

A village resident has accused a council of threatening ancient woodland near Market Drayton in a bid to build dozens of homes.

The Burntwood and the field to be used for development
The Burntwood and the field to be used for development

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council has been given outline planning permission for up to 55 homes off Eccleshall Road, in Loggerheads.

David Bailey, who lives in the village, said: "The site is a field surrounded on three sides by The Burntwood, an ancient semi-natural woodland (ASNW) as defined by DEFRA. This is one of the few amenities available to residents of Loggerheads, being very popular with dog walkers, families, hiking groups and scout groups."

He expressed concern about the planned buffer zone between the ancient woodland and the new homes, referring to the government guidelines for such development.

The government's planning advice for ancient woodland said: "A buffer zone’s purpose is to protect ancient woodland and individual ancient or veteran trees. The size and type of buffer zone should vary depending on the scale, type and impact of the development.

"For ancient woodlands, you should have a buffer zone of at least 15 metres to avoid root damage. Where assessment shows other impacts are likely to extend beyond this distance, you’re likely to need a larger buffer zone. For example, the effect of air pollution from development that results in a significant increase in traffic."

'Clearly inadequate'

The developer, WYG, previously said: "There is an ecology buffer proposed in the indicative masterplan around the proposed development blocks, typically 3m to the road edge and at least 15m to buildings.

"It should also be noted that the masterplan is indicative only and there will be further opportunity to agree the buffer and edge treatment to the wood at reserved matters stage."

Mr Bailey said that the proposed buffer is "clearly inadequate" and that the Woodland Trust has been contacted about the plans.

Loggerheads Parish Council said: "[The council] welcomes the proposal to build bungalows which supports the neighbourhood plan. There remain concerns, expressed to the original application, about the road safety of children both crossing the busy Eccleshall Road at this location and the likelihood that with no restrictions parents who drop children off at the nearby Hugo Meynell School will use this new estate for pre- and post-school parking as there are parking restrictions on Eccleshall Road. A condition that restricts parking on this site to residents only would be welcome.

"The parish council continues to object (as it did to the original application that was permitted) to the proposed buffer. The developer has not taken into consideration the Government Planning Policy Guidance which states that a 15-metre buffer should be created between development and ancient or semi-natural woodland ASNW of which The Burntwood is."

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council has been approached for comment.

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